Bangladesh is holding its breath after 100,000 Bangladeshi Muslim clerics signed a “fatwa” stating terrorism and militancy are “un-Islamic”, following a spate of violent attacks.

Earlier this month, the attacks on religious minorities, secularists and atheists had led to the detention of more than 11,000 suspects, according to national police.

“The massive country-wide crackdown – some sources even talk of 14,000 detained – seems to be a reaction to growing pressure from within and outside the country to stop the continuing attacks and killings,” said Thomas Müller, an analyst for Open Doors International, which reports on Christianity under pressure around the world. “The last Christian killed for his faith was a 72-year-old Catholic businessman in the village of Bonpara on 5 June. Whether the crackdown really helps in stopping these killings remains to be seen. Authorities are continuously claiming that the perpetrators are not allied to [the so-called “Islamic State”], but belong to local extremist Islamic groups. In any case, the increasingly volatile situation does not comfort the Christian minority at all.”

An analysis by an Assistant Professor at the University of Dhaka of the historical, political and cultural conditions which have contributed to a polarised debate on the role of religion in society, leaving space for extremism to flourish, was published recently on the Tony Blair Faith Foundation website.